Spring

Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen – Enjoy Hanami in the Heart of Tokyo

Onomatopoeia

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Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen is something why you should definitely include this park into your travel itinerary. Cherry Blossom, a single by Japan’s J-pop diva – Seiko Matsuda, in 1981, starts with the intro that goes, “Nani-mo-kamo Meza-me-teku Atara-shii Watashi”. It literally translates to “Everything awakens the new me within me.”  This song describes the pleasant feelings of a young girl that wants to start a brand-new life with her romantic partner.  Japanese people like to associate the cherry blossoms with something new and young.

And there are many other J-pop songs with “Sakura” in a title, a Japanese word for cherry blossoms in English.  Usually, these songs are about the start of a new life, the creation of a new future, and sometimes, about the departure from the “old me”. Cherry blossoms are in bloom for only a few weeks from late March to early April in Tokyo.  I think it short lives match the beautiful, youthful, and ephemeral nature of Sakura.

About the “Hanami”

The long-standing custom of viewing cherry blossoms dates back to the Nara period (710-794). In those times,  flower viewing parties by only a handful of the elite were very popular. They admired the “ume (Japanese apricot)” blossoms in most cases. Toward the beginning of the Heian period (794-1185), the cherry flowers started to replace ume blossoms at flower-viewing parties. The name of such parties was “hanami”. They were first mentioned in the first epic novel by the intellectual lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji. It is around this period when hanami became traditional cherry blossoms viewing party.  The feasts and sake were served under the cherry trees.  The parties were sophisticated enough for the participants to pen poems about their admiration for the beauty of the cherry blossoms. But no one would have thought that, about a thousand years later, ink brushes to write the poems would be replaced with microphones to sing karaoke songs.

Originally, hanami took place at that time as a kind of religious rites. They announced the start of rice planting season and followed the purpose to pray for the good harvest. Many people believed in deities and made offerings for the trees, flowers, and other plants.  After the Heian period, the custom gradually spread out to samurai warriors over time and, by the Edo period, to the commoners as well.

Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen

No one has little doubt that Shinjuku, which sees a constant stream of 3 million people every day, is the capital of contemporary Japanese culture with a lot of exciting and stylish spots to visit.  In the hustle and bustle of the city, Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, under the care of the central government, serves as an urban oasis when you want to escape the noises of the city.  Shinjuku Gyoen has a large area of more than 58 hectares, consisting of three major features: the French Formal and English Landscape in the north and a traditional Japanese Garden in the south.

It also displays many varieties of trees.  Among them are 1,500 cherry trees.  The Shidare Weeping Cherry trees have long branches that bow like willow trees and bear cascades of small pink flowers on them.  They bloom from late March.  Somei Yoshino Cherry trees, one of the most popular varieties of sakura in Japan, have pure white flowers in full bloom in early April.  And the rare Kanzan Cherry trees grow 8 to 10 meters high with a nearly 10-meter spread. They bear deep pink flowers on the gorgeous branches till late April.

Shinjuku Gyoen is open from 9:00 to 16:30.  It is closed on Mondays except for late March to late April, the sakura viewing season, and November, chrysanthemum viewing season. During the periods, you can see it every day. The admission fee is ¥200 for an adult, ¥50 for a child from 6 to 15, and a child under 6 is for free. The park rules are so strict that you cannot bring alcoholic beverages. It is perfect for family viewers and those who have little interest in binge parties.

Details and Access

Dates (blooming period): late March to early April every year

Operation hours: 9:00~16:00 (the gate will close at 16:30)

Place: Shinjuku Gyoen

Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo

Admission Fee: Adult 200 Yen, Elementary and Junior High School student 50 Yen

Official website: http://www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen/english/

Access:

Shinjuku Gyoen is within a short walk of 5 minutes from Shinjuku Gyoemmae Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi (red) Line. Or from Shinjuku Sanchome Station on the Tokyo Metro Fuku-toshin (brown) Line.  Toei Subway Shinjuku Line is also available within about a 5-minute walk from Shinjuku Sanchome Station.  If you use the JR Chuo-Sobu Line, get off at Sendagaya Station.

Closing Remarks

Let me get back to the Cherry Blossom song. The young girl in the lyrics wants to “design” her dream on the canvas of “bright future” with “jiyu-na-sen” or her own brush strokes, and in”jiyu-na-iro”or colors she wants to use.  In this analogy, each of the 65 varieties of Shinjuku Gyoen’s cherry trees also probably wants to “design” their flowers with “their own brush strokes and in colors, they want to use” to make themselves look more beautiful against the backdrops of the canvas of the spring blue sky. Why not recognize the subtle differences in how the gorgeous flowers of each sakura bloom?

If you would like to see the gorgeous Sakura flowers in Shinjuku Gyoen and explore Tokyo together with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Tokyo Stay!

Most of the travelers who come to Japan enter the country through Tokyo. Even if it is not the main place of your destination, it would be a great idea to stay in the capital city for a few days. The biggest conglomerate in the world has much to offer to any kind of traveler. Whether you want to go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, or trying something special that you can experience only in Japan, Tokyo has it all. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7726/ 

See More Tokyo Spring Events and Festivals This Year!

After cold winter, Tokyo blooms as hundreds of thousands of Sakura trees in spring. Not only it features numerous parks and spots for cherry blossoms viewing, but it also boasts uncountable events that will make your stay even more memorable. The weather is mild, so it is a perfect time for a walk around the city. The following article picked up the most interesting and popular festivals and events to attend this spring in Tokyo! Please take a look!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/popular-tokyo-spring-events-festivals

Enjoy Sakura in Japan!

Cherry blossoms are an essential part of Japanese culture. And, viewing cherry blossoms (Hanami) is very popular in Japan during the spring. This is because cherry blossoms, which the Japanese call “Sakura” are stunning at this season.

If you are planning to visit Japan this spring and want to discover more cherry blossoms spots in Kyoto area, please check the following article. It’s covering the best Hanami spots in the old capital and provides you with the essential information, so you can get the most from your Sakura trip!

Here’s the link. URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2566/ 

Osaka is very close to Kyoto. It will be a miss if you don’t visit Osaka to see cherry blossoms when you are in the Kansai area in spring. Please check the following article to find out the best cherry blossoms viewing spots in Osaka and Kansai!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/osaka-kansai-cherry-blossoms-spots-sakura-festivals-feel-spring 

Kyoto and Osaka have many beautiful spots to see Cherry blossoms. However, other areas also have excellent places for hanami. Tokyo features many of those spots as well! If you are in Tokyo around spring and looking for a place to see cherry blossoms, Why don’t you check the following article?

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/1805/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Don’t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

Onomatopoeia

Have two kids. Teach English at an “eikaiwa” school more than a decade Love cake.

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